Power BI vs Excel

Difference Between Power BI and Excel

Power Bi and Excel has many similarities in terms of functionalities and how the data is presented or how we make the connection with the other data sources, where excel is much easier to use than power bi but power bi has certain upper hand like better visualization and we should also remember that excel is very limited to sharing reports which power bi overcomes it.

Power BI is a business analytics tool from Microsoft which helps to build various dashboards and reports and can deal with millions of row data with high speed, whereas Excel is also a tool from Microsoft that has various built-in tools and functions that can be used for mathematical calculations, iterations, forecasting, and for creating graphs, and charts.

Power BI vs Excel Infographics

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Key Differences

  1. Data Size: One of the key differences is handling the capacity of data quantity. With Power BI, we can handle millions of rows together with fast speed, but with Excel, it is frustrating to handle large amounts of data.
  2. Cloud-Based Features: In Power BI, once the dashboard building is finished, we can publish the report to the end-users with Microsoft’s cloud-based services, but when it comes to excel, we need to share the large data with the dashboard either in email or any of the online sharing tools.
  3. Visualizations: In Power BI, we have plenty of visualizations to design the dashboard, but with excel, we have only limited visualizations.
  4. Custom Visualizations: Power BI allows us to import visualizations that are not there in the file by going to the market place, but Excel doesn’t have that luxury.

Comparative Table

ItemPower BIExcel
AvailabilityPower BI is a recent product so you cannot see this with all the excel users.Excel is everywhere and available with most of the people.
LearningPower BI isn’t that easy!!! It requires considerable knowledge in Power Query and Power Pivot DAX formulas and techniques to use it.Who doesn’t know excel??? Excel is the universal language that speaks in almost all the offices in the world. Because excel is there for such a long time most of the users find it easy to learn.
Cost to AcquirePower BI Desktop is free to download and use for personal use, but it takes 10 $ per month per user to share reports with others.Since we already have excel with us, we need to spend any additional amount to procure this and build dashboards.
Working FlexibilityPower BI is not flexible, especially if it just shifted from Excel to Power BI. You cannot do everything, everywhere.Excel is so flexible to use and create summary reports in simple steps and formulas.
VisualsPower BI has a wide variety of visualizations. Apart from available built-in charts, we can import many other visuals from the marketplace.Excel has only a few built-in charts and we need to work with only those charts to build dashboards.
Chart CustomizationPower BI doesn’t have the luxury of customizing a chart to the full extent. If you are working with one set of charts, then you can work with only that chartExcel is special and using built-in charts only we can create another set of charts. For example, a thermometer chart.
Dashboard InteractivityPower BI not only has Slicers it has a wide variety of other slicers as well. Cross filters, visual level filters, report level filters, and drill through filters.Excel has slicers to make the dashboards interactive with the user.
Size of the DataPower BI can handle large amounts of data with the Power Pivot engine model. More importantly, it is not restricted to any specific versions of Excel or Office 365.Excel struggles to handle a large amount of data and often says Not Responding error with a large quantity of data.
AccessibilityPower BI cannot be accessible everywhere unless you have licensed software.Excel can be accessed from everywhere and easy software to start learning dashboard skills.
Formula LanguagePower BI uses DAX language for its formulas and functions.Excel uses the MDX language for its formulas and functions.
Data SecurityWith Power BI we can restrict the data view to individuals by setting rules.When you share the dashboard with external stakeholders you need to share the dashboard along with data and it doesn’t guarantee you any data security.
Data SourceSince Power BI also has Power Query it can also fetch data from almost everywhere.Excel can get data from everywhere with Power Query.


Even though both are the beautiful products of Microsoft, the need for the modern era is quick and easy insights from the data. Excel is not going to vanish any time soon, but at least the dashboard building part for a large amount of data is already taken over by Power BI.

The future of Power BI looks promising and bright. So, you can consider investing your time and money on learning this because, in the modern world, companies are largely using data visualization tools. So, it’s time to be a Power BI superstar at your office.

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This has been a guide to Power BI vs Excel. Here we discuss the top difference between power bi and excel along with infographics and a comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles –

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